Ron Larson

Does the choice of a church name matter?

by Dr. Ron Larson – Pastor

A church name matters only in so far as we believe Colossians 1:18b, “…that in everything he [Jesus Christ] might be preeminent.”  In the Bible, the various names of God are a revelation of His essential nature and character.  Each name reveals what God is to the core and always corresponds perfectly with His actions.

Names given to people were also quite significant.  At key moments of Divine encounter, a name change was often called for.  When Jacob wrestled with God, his name was changed to Israel.  Abram became Abraham, the father of nations.  After the Father revealed who Jesus was to Simon, Jesus renamed him Peter.  Most significantly, Mary and Joseph were instructed to name the child Jesus, whose name means Yahweh saves—“for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  Names reveal the core essence of individuals and declare the destiny of God on their lives!

So, why would the choice of a name be important for a church?  If a name is well chosen, it clearly states the church’s core and destiny—it clarifies the church’s identity and sets an expectation for everything built in the future.

In our culture, churches choose names for a number of reasons:  1) to connect them with a denomination or group whose doctrines define them; 2) to brand the church as culturally cool or trendy.  I’ve notice that the tendency in churches has been toward cool sounding names that sound a bit mysterious, vague, and inevitably demand explanation to make sense out of it.   3) Other churches choose names around a specific aspect of Christianity, such as Fellowship, Resurrection, New Beginning, Life, or even the Bible.

Our new name is different in that it has come from years of focus and fixation on the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We came to our new name by repeatedly asking the question: “What are you building here Lord Jesus?” The more we sought the answer to this question, the more clearer our focus on Christ became. Eventually, what God was building became so clear and obvious to us, that our choice of our name became a no-brainer for us and a relief to the congregation.

So, does the choice of church name actually matter?  Only in so far as we believe Colossians 1:18b, “…that in everything he [Jesus Christ] might be preeminent.”  But regardless of the name we choose, if Christ is not the only thing that we are about, then we miss the point of His church.  Jesus must have first place and supremacy in all things—for us, His preeminence simply had to be central to our choice of church names!  Welcome to Jesus Church International!

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